Chemotherapy for Myeloma

How Chemotherapy Is Administered

Chemotherapy drugs are generally administered in three ways:

  • By mouth in the form of a pill you swallow
  • By injection
  • Locally (directly to the tumor site)

Injection methods include:

  • Intra-arterial (IA): into an artery
  • Intramuscular (IM): into a muscle
  • Intravenous (IV): into a vein
  • Subcutaneous (SubQ): into the skin

Local/direct methods include:

  • Intracavitary: in the cavity (or space) where your tumor had been prior to surgery
  • Interstitial: into body tissue
  • Intraperitoneal: into your abdomen or peritoneal cavity (intestines, liver, stomach, ovaries)
  • Intrathecal: into the fluid-filled space surrounding your brain and spinal cord
  • Intratumoral: into the tumor
  • Intraventicular: into a ventricle
  • Convection-enhanced delivery: into your tumor using gravity or controlled flow

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where high-powered medications are used to kill cancer cells. It’s a systemic approach to cancer treatment, where drugs are delivered through your bloodstream, targeting cancer cells throughout your body.

Scott & White’s Approach

Scott & White’s mission to provide personalized, comprehensive care is the foundation for our chemotherapy program.

Our medical oncologists take meticulous care to determine which chemotherapy drug or drugs are best for you. Several factors impact their decision, including the type, location and stage of your specific tumor and your overall medical condition.

How Chemotherapy Is Used to Treat Myeloma

Your physician team may recommend chemotherapy in addition to or instead of other treatments for your myeloma.

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where drugs are injected, given orally or through an IV, to keep your cancer from spreading. Often chemotherapy drugs are used in combination to attack cancer cells. It’s usually given in cycles over several months.

Chemotherapy drugs for myeloma may be given:

  • In pill form—Killing abnormal cells in your bone marrow, allowing your body to produce normal blood cells.
  • Intravenously—Destroying the proteins in your myeloma cells, thereby killing them.
  • With steroids—Improving the efficacy of the medications, thereby yielding excellent remissions.

There are a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs available to treat cancer. At Scott & White, we use all the standard chemotherapies.

With these multiple agents, we can apply and attain remissions, when back in the day you’d have to say, ‘I don’t have anything left.’

Mark H. Holguin, MD, Hematology/Oncology; Chief – Section of Hematology

With a two-pronged approach of medications given in combination with steroids, average life expectancy for myeloma has gone from three to five years to seven to ten years.

Myeloma is largely becoming considered a chronic illness due to the use of these multiple agents.

So we have all of these regimens. With myeloma, we have lots of stuff that works. What we’re trying to figure out is how to put that together in a sequence to offer the best the best quality of life and the longest duration of life.

Mark H. Holguin, MD, Hematology/Oncology; Chief – Section of Hematology

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Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Each chemotherapy drug is different and each person’s reaction to it can vary. At Scott & White, your medical oncologist will see you through treatment and help you manage any side effects.

Here are some common side effects of chemotherapy drugs for myeloma:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Lowered resistance to infection

For more information about possible side effects, please talk to your medical oncologist.

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